It was by no means pretty, but it was exactly what Thad Matta's team needed: A victory.
Behind a game-high 22 points from sophomore forward Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State outlasted a hapless Penn State team 66-46 Monday. The victory puts an end to a two-game losing skid for the Buckeyes, who had lost three of four.
Ohio State led by 19 midway through the second half, before a 6-0 run forced Matta to call a timeout with 8:00 left. The Nittany Lions never got that close again.
The Buckeyes (13-8, 5-3 Big Ten) scored 22 of the next 24 points in the game to put hapless Penn State away.
Ohio State led by as many as 15 in the first half, aided by a more than seven-minute Penn State scoring drought. The Nittany Lions (11-10, 2-6) missed 11 straight shots while the Buckeyes went on an 8-0 run.
Penn State kept within reach on the heels of a 12-4 scoring run to close the first half, cutting Ohio State's lead to 33-26 at intermission.
|OHIO STATE||STAT||PENN STATE|
|24-52 (46)||FGM-FGA (PCT.)||20-60 (33)|
|8-19 (42)||3PM-3PA (PCT.)||4-25 (16)|
|10-14 (71)||FTM-FTA (PCT.)||2-5 (40)|
Bates-Diop scored 13 points in the first half, nailing three shots from behind the arc. The Buckeyes committed 10 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes and it took the Nittany Lions 14 tries to make their first 3-pointer.
Monday was the first start of freshman guard A.J. Harris' Ohio State career. He earned the nod over JaQuan Lyle, another freshman, for the first time this season. Daniel Giddens also started for the first time since Dec. 1. Harris tallied four points and dished out four assists, while Lyle scored six off the bench.
Penn State finished a dreadful 4-of-25 from deep, further cementing its place as the worst 3-point shooting team in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions entered Monday's contest shooting 30.8 percent from beyond the arc. Brandon Taylor was the only Penn State player in double figures with 11 points.
Sophomore forward Jae'Sean Tate finished with 15 points, connecting on all six of his field goal attempts. Marc Loving added 11, but had a team-high five turnovers.
Ohio State travels to Illinois Thursday. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m.